DEA Crackdown On Synthetic Drugs


Synthetic drugs, such as bath salts and synthetic marijuana, are a growing concern in the United States, with use on the rise. In an attempt to combat the problem, a bipartisan bill was introduced that would add over 200 compounds commonly used in the production of synthetic drugs to the Schedule I drug list. What’s more, recent crackdowns on synthetic drugs by federal agencies has resulted in more than a hundred arrests across the country, the Associated Press reports.

Since July, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and other state and federal agents have arrested 151 people for crimes involving synthetic drugs in 16 states. The DEA’s “Project Synergy” seized over $15 million in cash and assets from synthetic drug manufacturers and purveyors, according to the article. Synthetic drugs are inexpensive and are often undetectable by common drug tests, making the products popular. These types of drugs are unpredictable, and the side-effects can require medical attention.

Popular synthetic drug names include:

  • Spice
  • K2
  • Flakka
  • Ivory Wave
  • Vanilla Sky

“These drugs are, in my judgment, more serious than the drugs that are on the Controlled Substance Act, more dangerous,” said bill co-sponsor Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents Washington, D.C. “These are right out in the open. They’re disguised in colored wrapping with snappy names to appeal to young people and children in particular. They are cheap. Much cheaper than the dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroin. They’re sold everywhere. And drugs that are sold everywhere are presumed to be safe. They are openly marketed as an alternative to dangerous drugs and they have bizarre effects.”


If you are or a loved one is abusing synthetic drugs, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation.

Synthetic Drug Use On The Rise


Lawmakers are being hit from every direction when it comes to substance abuse: the opioid epidemic, relaxed attitudes on marijuana, and synthetic drug use. As the nation moves closer to an election year, many are wondering how these issues are going to be handled – especially when it comes to opioids and synthetic drugs. In recent months, a number of plans and measures have been announced to address prescription opioids and heroin; however, there has been significantly less talk about synthetic drug use.

While synthetic drug use is a new problem, relatively speaking, tackling use of these insidious drugs is of the utmost importance. New research suggests that synthetic drug use is on the rise among certain demographics, News-Medical reports. Researchers from New York University Langone Medical Center analyzed self-reported use of 57 different new drugs. The findings come from data in the National Survey of Drug Use and Health which indicated that synthetic drug use increased from 2009 to 2013 among teenagers and young adults ages 12 to 34.

Synthetic drug use was most common among:

  • Males
  • Whites
  • City Dwellers
  • People with Lower Incomes

“This is the first study reporting on use of a variety of new drugs in a nationally representative U.S. sample,” lead researcher Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, said in a news release. “However, we’re pretty confident that use of new drugs was severely underreported, as the research subjects were not asked about most of these drugs specifically.”

Palamar adds the older research indicates that synthetic marijuana and bath salt use is being used at higher rates, according to the article. Future surveys need to ask about synthetic drug use.

“Hundreds of new psychoactive drugs have come out in recent years and some of them can be very dangerous,” he said. “We need health surveys to ask about use of new drugs, in addition to traditional drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, in order to quickly pick up on potential drug epidemics.”

The findings are published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.


If you are or a loved one is abusing synthetic drugs, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation.

Dangerous Synthetic Drug Flakka Growing in Popularity

Over the last few years concerns have been mounting about dangerous synthetic drugs being used across the country. The most common synthetic drugs come in the form of bath salts or herbal plant matter sprayed with powerful chemicals designed to mimic the effects of traditional narcotics.

Synthetic marijuana is perhaps the most popular amongst teenagers and young adults, sold under brands names like Spice and K2. Officials have had a difficult time policing these drugs because the manufactures quickly alter the chemical makeup as soon as the government issues a ban.

The latest synthetic drug to gain popularity is known as “flakka” (alpha-PVP), a synthetic stimulant drug of the cathinone class – a cousin of the chemical used on the widely used bath salts (MDPV). While flakka cases have been confined to Florida, officials are not finding the insidious drug in other states, The Wall Street Journal reports. Flakka is known to cause delusions and aggression, and can be addictive.

Officials in South Florida have found that alpha-PVP has replaced crack cocaine due to cheap prices and ease of purchase online from China, according to Capt. Dana Swisher of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. He says, “Our concern is that we’re going to start getting people into the game that weren’t necessarily potential sellers and distributors in the past.”

Many users of flakka, as well as other synthetic drugs, are unaware of just how dangerous they can be. The medical examiner in Broward County, South Florida reports that flakka has been linked to 29 deaths in the past year, according to the article. Other states can expect to see similar instances; officials have already seen cases in Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio.

The common side effects associated with alpha-PVP use include:

  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Excited Delirium
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations


If you or a loved one is abusing synthetic drugs, please do not hesitate, contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation.

Beware: Flesh Rotting Street Drug “Krokodil”

Krokodil Drug – May Have Come From Russia to the US

Over a year ago the nation was shocked by the synthetic drug known as bath salts that was suspected in a horrific act of violence in Miami, Florida. Since then there have been national crackdowns on head shops and gas stations that sold the synthetic drug and news reports of it have dwindled. Last week a new drug, that proves just as, if not more, horrifying than bath salts may have hit the streets in the US.

The drug is called “krokodil” because it causes users to break out in scaly sores like a crocodile. These sores aren’t a result of picking, as with meth addicts but from contaminants in the drug that cause human flesh to rot, much like gangrene. The drug has been on the streets of Russia and authorities hoped it wouldn’t find its way to the US – but it may have. The Banner Good Samaritan Poison Control Center in Phoenix, Arizona got wind from physicians about symptoms in their emergency rooms that were consistent with the IV use of krokodil – although toxicology reports have yet to confirm this.

These reports were taken seriously on a national level because emerging drugs are often first seen by physicians that treat the symptoms. Reportedly two addicts arrived in a Phoenix area hospital with exposed bone and flesh hanging off their bodies. Accordingly, news reports about krokodil that followed bear a resemblance to those about bath salts a year ago – with headlines like “Zombie Apocalypse Drug Reaches US: This Is Not a Joke” and “The Most Horrifying Drug in the World Comes to the US.”

Given the drug’s horrific effects that often require amputations, people are left wondering what the appeal of it is and why people would even try it in the first place. In Russia alone up to 1 million people are estimated to use it according to New York’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. The appeal in Russia is that the drug mimics the effects of opiates but is 3 times cheaper than heroin and can be made with household products.

The DEA currently believes reports are just anecdotal because other reports of krokodil over the past few years were never confirmed, according to agency spokesman Rusty Payne. We hope they are just anecdotal and the public stays safe and aware – especially educating loved ones about the effects of krokodil and urging them not to experiment with any new drugs. Although impending amputation is enough of a deterrent to dissuade most, some addicts who are heavy in their addictions are most liable to become victims.


One in Ten Colorado Teens Abuse Drugs

A recent study published by the Kids Count Data Book revealed that an alarming number of teens in Colorado abuse substances and are at risk of becoming addicts and needing substance abuse treatment in adulthood. The study showed that 10% of those aged 12-17 in Colorado abuse substances, be it alcohol, prescription drugs or synthetic drugs. This places Colorado third for states with the highest rate of teen substance abuse, after New Mexico and Montana.

Some factors that cause 1 in 10 Colorado teens to abuse drugs include a lack of education and prevention, accessibility to drugs and perceived alternatives to reported “boredom.” According to Jim Schrant, a DEA official, teen drug use is especially prominent in western Colorado. He says, “Teens have been involved in a lot of different drugs here in western Colorado, including meth and heroin.” Since various factors play into the high statics of abuse, there is not one “silver bullet” to address the problem – “It has to be an issue of vigilance and awareness,” says Schrant.

A1998 study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) revealed that early drug use is associated a with much higher risk of addiction in adulthood. Another study by Dr. Andrew Chambers of Yale University explains why; A teenager’s brain is not fully formed – especially the part of the brain that controls impulse but the “reward” part of their brains are fully, or even overly developed. For example, during the teenage years there is more dopamine released in the brain when they experience something pleasurable. This sparks a greater drive to repeat the action that led to the experience. In short, activities that increase dopamine are repeated because they send a message to the brain that says “that felt good!” The study explains that teens have more ”feel good” chemicals circling around because it encourages teens to do more and experience more in order to develop the brain more.

While this is occurring, the part of the brain that uses logic to weigh risks or control impulses are still developing. This results in greater experimentation with drugs among teens because consequences aren’t heavily weighed. The experimentation is then likely to lead to addiction. Although there is no “silver bullet” the “vigilance and awareness” that Schrant suggests can be applied to programs on drug prevention that start early – before youth become teenagers. This is because the longer that adolescents can delay alcohol and other drug use, the less their chance of becoming addicted as adults and needing drug treatment programs.

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